A large portion of Hawaii’s homeless population suffers from schizophrenia, severe substance abuse, or other incapacitating mental illnesses. The sad reality is that most of these people will continue to suffer for years while their mental and physical health deteriorates.
Psychiatrist Dr. Chad Koyanagi, along with a team from The Institute for Human Service, does outreach to people living on the streets who may need mental health assistance.
For many of these people, although psychiatric medications, shelter spaces, and medical assistance are available to them, many are resistant to treatment and lack the mental faculties to understand and accept help.
This is why something called Assisted Community Treatment, essentially a law allowing the involuntary treatment and commitment of the severely mentally ill in cases where they pose imminent threats to themselves or others, is so important.
Dr. Chad, Kimo Carvalho, and Justin Phillips from IHS took Lieutenant Governor Green around the downtown area to meet some of their clients they’ve been working with for a long time, many of whom are resistant to treatment for mental illness or drug addiction.
The conditions that they live in are distressing, inhumane, and dangerous.
This incredible, heart-wrenching piece from Hawaii News Now, “Prescribing Hope Part II: Trapped on the Streets“, looks at the complex challenges faced by the severely mentally ill homeless and their loved ones in obtaining treatment.
Assisted Community Treatment is an effective, compassionate way to help give those in Hawaii’s streets battling mental illness their lives back, and a chance for something better, and is a critical part of the Lieutenant Governor’s strategy to end homelessness in Hawaii.